Friday, June 30, 2006, 12:41 PM - Coatings & FinishesAqueous coating, is what we usually apply to the front side of any mail piece. There are some advantages and disadvantages to aqueous coating: First, aqueous coating is not an ink, nor a varnish, it is actually an ammonia based clear coat that can add great scuff resistance to postcards, as well as increasing overall sheen and gloss factor. Aqueous coating is available in both a high gloss, and a matte or satin finish. Aqueous coating dries instantly, greatly reducing the necessary dry time, so we can print the back faster, and we can cut/finish the printed material straight off of the press. Aqueous coating is relatively environmentally friendly (unlike UV which is plastic based, extremely environmentally caustic, and can not be recycled after it is applied.) Aqueous coating, does lend difficulty with imprinting, writing, or ink jet addressing for mailing, so usually we only apply it to 1 side of postcards, unless we are certain, they will be labeled before addressing. Another down side is that aqueous coating is applied in a "flood" unit, meaning that we must coat the entire sheet, unless we hand cut a blanket for application, which is both manual, disposable, and relatively expensive. Another advantage of aqueous coating, is that it can be done in-line with the printing, and is therefore relatively easy and cheap.
Varnishes, are actually pigment-less inks, (with special additives for scuff resistance, and sheen). Varnishes come in matte, gloss, and a variety of other finishes, and can be applied with printing plates. This allows us to apply "spot gloss", or other finishes to any part of the sheet that you like. This application would be perfect for the look that you are after. There are some drawbacks. First of all, because the varnish is an ink, there is a limit to the amount of coverage that we can put on the paper in one pass ( too much ink, will not dry, or actually begin to cause "picking" where the finish of the paper actually falls apart from the tack of the ink). Also putting varnishes over wet ink, will reduce the gloss contrast, because the varnish vehicles (non pigment ingredients) will mix with the vehicles of the inks. For best results with spot varnish, we usually do a dry trap (print the color, allow it to dry, put the job back through the press and print the varnish). This can really add to the cost of producing your job, because it takes us 2 passes, creates longer drying times, and must sit for as long as a couple of days before it is dry enough to cut, or do other finishing..
In short, for the best value, if you want quick, easy and high quality, I would go with a flood aqueous. For some custom jobs, this is does not produce the desired effect, however. Spot varnishes can be applied at an additional cost, and longer turn-around times. I would recommend getting a price quote on both methods, and making your decision based upon value vs. appearance of the piece.
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Tuesday, June 6, 2006, 06:54 PM - RegistrationAs I discussed earlier in the article "To Rich Black or Not to Rich Black", printing large black solids can be really disapointing unless "under-color" inks are added to the black ink, to achieve greater density, thus darker black tones. While the addition of process inks to black builds, help solve this problem (I recommend 60C 50M 50Y 99K), some additional problems can arise with Rich Blacks. Some of these potential problems were covered in the previous article, but there is one more issue that I felt was worthy of it's own discussion topic.
Choking text. What the heck is choking text? Why bother to choke my text? How do I choke my text? These are some of the questions I will attempt to answer with this entry.
While Large black solids can carry a lot of impact, and be quite cool in their own right, sooner or later, most graphic designers usually want to include some text in their designs. On a solid black background, most of the time, this text will be a white reverse, or at least a light color reverse. When working with rich blacks, this can pose some regestration issues, particularly when the text is small, or set in a serif font. The last thing that anyone wants when designing a showpiece brochure is to have the reverse text out of register, or "fuzzy" on the edges. Choking your text is like taking out an insurance policy that your small reverse text will look its best.
If you do not Choke your text, do not be surprised to discover that your fine text reverses turn looking like this graphic.
When there is no reason that they can't look like this (if you just take the time to add a little choke).
How do I do this wonderful thing, you might be asking? Simple: Adding choke to your text is as simple as putting a single color black stroke (0C 0M 0Y 100K) around your reversed text.
By taking this simple step with rich blacks, being a micron or two out of registration on press will not fill in your text with the process "under-color". You can see how this works, by looking at the next graphic, which shows only the Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow plates. the black has been turned off to show the "choke" of the under-color.
When we view the black on top of the undercolor, it will not be quite as dark as the rich black, but if the choke is small enough, your eye will not pick it up. (the contrast of the black has been greatly exaggerated in this next image for demonstration purposes).
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Monday, June 5, 2006, 08:20 PM - Color Related
Have you ever had a job printed with a large black solid, expecting to get back something resembling the paint job on a brand new sports car, beautiful and glossy, so black that you can see your reflection in it, only to be disapointed by the muddy charcoal grey brochure that has about as much punch and Impact as plain oatmeal? If you said yes, look no further. Rich Blacks are the answer to your troubles.
Rich Blacks are really quite simple, and well worth knowing about. In the printing world, in order to get the darkest, blackest black possible, we do not just use black ink, but rather a blend of all 4 process colors. The way this works is this: In theory, black ink is not really needed to print full color images. This is due to the fact that Black (or greyscale)colors can be acheived by adding the correct blend of Cyan, Magenta, and yellow Inks. To really simplify this, equal portions of CMY equal the corrisponding black value (for example, 50 C 50 M 50 Y = 50 K, more or less). By adding these undercolors, we are actually creating a black that is MUCH blacker that 100% black ink.
For Most applications involving sheetfed ofset printing, I recommend a rich black of 60% Cyan, 50% Magenta, 50% Yellow, and 99% Black If you want a slightly tinted black, simply adjust the proportions of the CMY values to "color" your blacks. You can even try using several different rich blacks for contrast in a single piece (If you try this, be sure to make sure that your blacks have a wide degree of contrast). Not only does this make for a beautiful black color, it reduced the chances of seeing spots of dust, or marks in the finished print.
With rich blacks however comes the burden of understanding when it is appropriate to use them. The only thing worse than a washed out, greyish single hit black, is when rich blacks are used incorrectly. One of the most common mistakes that I see with rich blacks is the tendancy to overuse them. Rich Blacks are best when used with large areas of solid black, or the largest of headline text only. When Rich Blacks are used for smaller areas, particularly fine text (say 24 pt or below) they can only add difficulty and the chance of almost certainly being out of register to the printed piece. In order for "built black text to appear correctly, the press operator must register all 4 printing plates to within a few microns of each other. With such small areas of coverage, there will be no real difference in the apparent density of your blacks.
Another thing to consider, is that while more ink density will make a darker black, too much ink will cause major problems on press. In all of the values used for sheetfed CMYK printing add up to more than 350% (usually much less for other methods), the ink will have trouble drying, or the paper will actually begin to pick apart from the thick ink film. In most cases I would not recommend going above 300% max ink film.
For a basic rule of thumb, text below 24 point, fine lines and illustrations, tiny logos, and bullets/icons should always be set to single color black, while large solids, especially floods and reverses should always be set to a rich black. And remember, that too much ink is usually worse than not enough.
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Monday, June 5, 2006, 01:24 PMWe have set up this site so that we can post useful information for our clients and customers to use in their for-print file preparation.
We hope you find this site useful and welcome your comments and interaction.
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